Long unplanned weekend away, just getting back to my desk, so I'm just tossing it all in the pot:
The biggest early surprise in the MLS season has to be THE WINLESS HOUSTON DYNAMO stumbling to a 0 - 1 - 3 start.
The last remaining winless team in MLS, the Dynamo currently have a solid grip on last place, a spot they haven't had much experience with.
Playing four out of their first five games on the road isn't an easy task for any team, and some injuries have certainly contributed but going all the way back to the 6-1 pasting laid on them by Gamba Osaka in the Last Annual HulaPalooza, something just hasn't been right.
They've started slowly before, most notably just last season, so it's certainly not time to throw in the towel, but right now these guys look like they can be had.
In another surprising development which has gone about as unnoticed as is humanly possible, the US BEACH SOCCER TEAM HAS FAILED TO QUALIFY for the FIFA World Cup after losses to both El Salvador and Mexico in the CONCACAF tournament last week eliminated them from the finals, to be held in Marseilles later this year.
This is the first year since it's inception in 2005 that the US has not qualified for the finals and also the first year the finals will be held someplace other than Rio.
In case you forgot to set your DVR, here are some highlights from last years' final:
If you managed to stay awake through that, a cynic might suggest that the purpose for this yearly event is to provide a thinly veiled excuse for a lavishly expensive beach resort vacation for the entire FIFA executive board, but I disagree. I'm certain that Ali Blatter and the 40 Thieves see Beach Soccer as the next great world sport.
CANADA'S NATIONAL WOMEN'S TEAM HAS SOME PROBLEMS, not least of which being that their program is run by the CSA, an organization which would embarrass a third world stinkhole, let alone a country which likes to think of itself as globally relevant.
They can't seem to arrange games, come up with money for much in the way of travel or training expenses, and are depending on the Canadian Olympic Committee for much of their planning and support.
Some folks in Canada think the solution to their national team problems is to find some corporate sponsors, but a much simpler solution would be to turn the whole program over to S.U.M. Mexico did, and their mens and womens programs are both wallowing in cash.
One really has to question just what it is the Galaxy is getting for the dough they shelled out in order to bring in Ruud Gullit.
We all chuckled when he spent half an hour at the MLS combine, announced that nobody there could play and then got on a plane and left the scouting and drafting to Panayotis, but the fact is that whether Gullit likes it or not, that's where a lot of MLS players come from.
Then, on top of the exceedingly odd Franchino deal, about which he clearly knew very little if anything, there's this today FROM GRAHAME JONES:
It appears that Gullit is not totally in the loop on the transaction front. Last week he was asked about the acquisition of defenders Scott Bolkan and Vardan Adzemian and their subsequent loan to the Portland Timbers. Gullit looked blank. He had never heard of either player.
I don't care what league you're in, a manager can't just sit around waiting for whatever players drop in from the sky, particularly when the guy doing the dropping is a well-known halfwit like Lalas. You have to wonder at this point whether Gullit really gives a damn about this team, this league or this job.
Speaking of LA would someone kindly explain why THEY"RE APPARENTLY PLANNING ON PLAYING THE IRANIAN NATIONAL TEAM in June?
I would think they had bigger fish to fry, so to speak. Same with the Moenchengladbach "Working for a Living" tour touching down in Denver and Dallas in July. MLS rosters are just too thin to be wasting them on nonsense like this. I'm sure it's just me, but mid-season exhibitions always leave me scratching my head. I just don't get the point.
Another "We're supposed to be winning, aren't we?" outfit off to an abysmal start, DC United, a team pretty much awash in forwards, is trying to solve some of their problems by BRINGING IN ANOTHER FORWARD.
I'd be the last person to question either Payne or Soehn, both of whom are smart guys who know what they're doing, but if I were them I'd concentrate on looking for a couple guys who can mark somebody once in a while.
Finally, Pele, the man Romario once famously referred to as "an old retard", has SOME UNFLATTERING THINGS TO SAY ABOUT DIEGO MARADONNA
These guys have never liked each other, and it's made for some entertainment over the years, but they both need to give it up.
Fact is, neither one of them has done much to cover themselves with glory since their respective retirements: Maradonna has used more white powder then the Pillsbury Doughboy - to whom he, coincidentally, bears a striking physical resemblance - and Pele spends his time serving the same function for Sepp Blatter as one of those little dogs Paris Hilton carries around in a handbag.
Except Pele takes more naps.